Archive for February, 2015

What is Biblical Marriage?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

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Issues Facing Missions Today 29:

Reflection on the creation stories of Genesis 1.1-2.3 and 2.4-25—which are, of course, intended to be read together—helps us to understand a Biblical view of marriage. Three key aspects of marriage emerge from the stories. Marriage is between complementary beings of the same human species that form a permanent union: male and female. Marriage is for the purpose of procreation and flourishing within creation. And marriage involves the responsibility of exercising authority within the order of creation. Each of these points can be explored with reference to the understanding of being created in God’s image in Gen. 1.26ff. Moreover, in light of the cultural confusion regarding marriage in Western countries, that marriage so understood cannot apply to homosexual unions any more than sexual unions between humans and animals is a clear corollary of what is stated in the Biblical account of creation. Yet, to claim that marriage is not a social construction but must be understand in terms of God’s purposes in creation has become in the West an opportunity for the Church to make the missional proclamation that God is Creator.
The Image of God and Creation:
In Gen. 1.26ff, being created in the image of God has to do with two things: multiplication for the flourishing of God’s creation and the stewardship of God’s created order by those given responsibility. As these two functions involve male and female working together, a third aspect of being created in the image of God needs to be appreciated: the necessary unity of male and female. Multiplication is not possible without the union of male and female. Neither can produce offspring without the other. With this understanding of being created in God’s image, we have three key parts to any understanding of marriage: (1) the ‘one flesh’ unity of male and female; (2) multiplication for the flourishing of the species, and (3) oversight of God’s created order.
The first creation story (Gen. 1.1-2.3) emphasizes the binary roles of God’s good creation. The work of the first three days of creation involves separations of the realms for what will later be created. Only with these separations will fruitfulness and multiplication be possible and chaos be avoided. There are the separations of (day 1) the day and night, (day 2) the waters of the sky and the waters of the earth, and (day 3) the dry land and the waters. The text of Genesis elaborates at this point to emphasize that such binary distinctions permitted the vegetation of the earth to flourish (Gen. 1.11-12). Vegetation needs daylight, rain, and earth. Without such separations, the world is chaotic and cannot flourish.
The next three days of creation focus on authority/oversight of certain rulers related to each of the first three days of creation. Thus, (day 4) lights are made to populate the day and night separation, and a sun is created to rule the day and a moon to rule the night on the fourth day of creation. Then (day 5), the creatures that dwell in and rule the realm of the waters on the earth are created and commanded to multiply and flourish. Complementing these fish and sea creatures are the creatures made to rule the realm of the sky–the birds. Finally, (day 6), land creatures are formed to occupy the land realm of the third day of creation. Then, to rule over all the occupants of the different realms, God created humankind. These six days of creation, moreover, have their complement in the one day of rest, the Sabbath.
Marriage: Union, Procreation, Authority
Being created in God’s image entails an understanding of the flourishing that derives from marriage. This flourishing begins with the union of male and female. It continues with procreation—the multiplication of the species. And it further entails the right exercise of authority according to God’s purposes.
First, marriage entails a unity through complementarity of binary authorities, just as in the rest of creation. Only such an understanding of unity makes multiplication possible, and only multiplication of the species makes dominion of the rest of creation possible. Any other attempt at unity apart from the coming together of male and female will fail: multiplication is impossible, and the right rule of God’s ordered creation is impossible. Instead, the species would die out and the order of creation would turn to chaos.
In the microcosm of the family, for God’s purpose in creation to be accomplished marriage must first be understood in terms of the complementarity of male and female. They are both created in God’s image. They both have authority. Their differences allow for their unity. This is a point made especially in the second creation story, where it is said that the cleaving of male and female entails becoming one flesh (Gen. 2.24).[1] For Jesus, this fact argues against divorce (Mt. 19.4-6).[2] For Paul, this points to the fact that sexual immorality with prostitutes is sin (1 Cor. 6.16.[3] Both Jesus and Paul insist, on the basis of Gen. 2.24, that marriage is permanent. And, in Eph. 5.21-33, Paul argues that this passage points to the respect of the wife for the husband and the love of the husband for the wife within marriage. If a person does not abuse his own body, the one-flesh union of husband and wife should also produce the same love and respect seen between Christ and the Church. Paul makes this point in a larger context in which he is explaining the reign of Christ’s peace and the unity it brings in various relationships (between God and humanity, 2.1-11; Jews and Gentiles, 2.12-3.10; within the church, 4.1-6.9; and in the face of spiritual warfare, 6.10-18). Within the church is the family relationship of husband and wife, parents and children, and masters and slaves (5.21-6.9), and these are all places where strife may erupt but where Christ brings peace. The first two relationships are not social constructions but part of God’s intention in creation: male and female in marriage, parents and children as the fruit of marriage. Thus, marriage is a result of God’s intention to produce unity through complementarity.[4]
Secondly, marriage allows multiplication through procreation to take place–an essential part of creation. Again, complementarity is required for there to be sexual union that results in offspring. This understanding of the purpose of marriage explains why Jesus says that there is to be no marriage in the resurrection (Mt. 22.30): in the life to come, there is no further mandate to multiply. This does not reduce sex to having children, but it does explain where the emphasis lies: marriage is union between a male and a female. Thus, a Biblical view of sex makes clear that it is not to be pursued with others outside of marriage. This also explains why the Old Testament reports sexual union outside of marriage when the wife is barren for the purpose of procreation (as with a handmaid or a deceased brother’s widow). Sex also has the purpose within marriage of being the way to address God-given sexual desire (1 Cor. 7.2-5).
Thirdly, coming together in the union of male and female and then multiplying by having offspring leads to consideration of another function of marriage: the exercise of oversight and authority according to God’s order in creation. The primary focus of the Genesis story of creation in this regard has to do with the authority of human beings created in God’s image over the rest of creation. Yet it is not a stretch in an essay on marriage to focus on the authority parents exercise over children to raise them up in the way they should go according to God’s purposes. Children need to be raised, not just left to find their own way, and the ability of a couple to raise their children in the right way is an example of their exercise of right authority in God’s creation. This function—exercising a role of oversight—reflects being created in the image of God. In fact, Paul says that someone should not be given the authority or responsibility to exercise oversight in the church if he lacks control over his own household–that is, if the children are not submissive and respectful (1 Tim. 3.4). Whether in the family itself or in the church as a family, proper oversight is a function of being created in the image of God.
False ‘Marriage
These three things–(1) unity of male and female; (2) multiplication; and (3) raising children–explain why certain other sexual acts are considered sinful in Scripture. Bestiality, homosexuality, premarital sexual acts, and adultery are all outside of marriage. Such acts cannot constitute marriage in the Biblical sense. First, they represent precisely the chaos God overcame in His act of creation. Homosexual or bestial sexual acts make as much sense as having no distinction between day and night, sky and water, land and sea. Homosexual unions make as much sense as having two suns (or two moons) instead of a sun and a moon or no distinction between the creatures of the sea and the birds of the air. They are simply wrongly ordered unions. Secondly, homosexual unions cannot result in the mandate to multiply and flourish upon the earth as a species. Thirdly, since they reject proper ordering, they cannot result in proper oversight and authority, they constitute a failed stewardship of creation. They are no context in which to raise children in the ways of God precisely because they are a rejection of creation authority itself.
In conclusion, Jews and Christians have a clear teaching on marriage from the creation accounts in Genesis 1.1-2.25. I have, to some extent, explained how such a view is consistently maintained in the Old Testament, Jewish Scriptures and by the early Church, as reflected in the New Testament. The Biblical view of marriage is based on an understanding of creation itself and of being created in the image of God. Jews and Christians who follow the teaching of Scripture insist, therefore, that marriage is not something we can define however we wish but only in terms of what God intended in his creation. Biblical marriage entails a permanent union between a male and a female, the multiplication through procreation of our species that we might flourish, and an authority or stewardship over the order God established in His creation. This third point leads to an understanding of marriage that entails an understanding of family that entails the oversight over children that parents give in their role as God’s image-bearers. For various reasons, others might come under parental rule in the family—what we might consider an ‘extended family’. Oversight, in fact, extends to all of creation, not just authority in the home. Yet it is an authority that entails stewardship according to God’s purposes in creation; not an authority to exercise over against or independently from God’s purposes. The lure of the serpent in Genesis 3 was precisely the lure of exercising divine authority like a god rather than under God’s authority. The serpent enticed Eve to disobey God’s command and become like God in the exercise of independent authority. Thus a disordered rule—say, of two men living as though they were husband and wife—is, first, a rule of chaos in the mixing of things that should be separated; second, a sexual perversion that cannot result in offspring; and, third, an abuse of God-given authority by ruling apart from and against God’s order in this world.
Can this argument be made outside the community of faith that understands Scripture as God’s Word? To some extent, the argument can be put forward without the assumptions of a faith community. Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher in the 1st c. AD, for example, put forward a similar argument. He was neither Jewish nor Christian but argued on the grounds of what was ‘according to nature’. However, Paul, in his day, held out little hope of making such arguments apart from persons first coming to faith. He states that the minds of persons who have denied God as the creator of this world are sufficiently confused that they will think things obviously unnatural to be natural (Rom. 1.18-28)—as, indeed, we hear argued in our day as well. The redefinition of ‘marriage’ to include same-sex unions in the West in our day actually goes against the convictions of cultures throughout time.[5] We are faced with a confusion of the created order that appears to go beyond what the early Christians experienced. Indeed, the West lacks an Epictetus, it includes Jews and Christians who disregard Scripture or who readily twist its meanings for their own ends, and it argues not according to how things are but according to how they wish things to be. Truth is now thought to be constructed, and tolerance of diversity has become intolerance of the truth. In such a context, Biblical marriage cannot be mandated, and the laws of the land will not support it. However, Biblical marriage can now become a counter-cultural witness, and practicing it can now become a part of the Church’s mission. By it, Christians proclaim, ‘We believe in God, Creator of heaven and earth.’
[1] Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.
[2] Matthew 19:4-6 4 He [Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
[3] 1 Corinthians 6:16 Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.”
[4] Paul—and his audience—assumes complementarity here. His point is that Christ establishes the unity that God intends in every sphere of creation. He does not argue that egalitarianism will accomplish unity. In the case of husband and wife, though, he establishes that God created male and female to be ‘one flesh’ through marriage and that Christ makes this possible.
[5] This is not to say that the pre-Christian world of Greece and Rome did not know of such things. Same-sex marital unions were, however, unique enough to attract comment. (One example might be the second satire of Juvenal.)

Jesmond Conference addresses “British Values” debate

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

By Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream

Evangelicals from different denominations based in the north east of England were joined by Church of England evangelicals from the rest of the country for the 24 hour “Jesmond Conference” in Newcastle. Jesmond Parish Church has become the largest and most significant Anglican centre in the region. David Holloway, vicar of Jesmond for more than four decades, has given considerable thought to the decline of Christian influence in Western culture, and his reflections provided the basis for the discussions and the final conference statement.

Papers had been provided to delegates before the conference, setting out the issue of British Values in its immediate context and examining some of the philosophical and cultural background. In the summer of 2014 it came to light that some schools in Birmingham appeared to have been strongly influenced by Muslim governors and teachers, who were introducing teachings and practices alien to commonly held understandings of modern Western democracy. The Government’s response was to conduct an inadequate and hasty “consultation on promoting British values in school”. Holloway comments: “But what are British values and who should decide? The consultation made the Government’s answer clear: British values are what the Government decide.”

In an attempt to appear even handed and not specifically targeting schools in areas with large populations of Muslims, OFSTED inspectors have in a number of well-publicised cases been critical of schools with a Christian foundation and also some in rural ethnically homogenous areas. This has led to accusations that the Department of Education is using an undemocratically concocted definition of British values to push through a politically correct agenda, ensuring that schools promote among other things a positive view of homosexuality and a non-confessional understanding of religion. As Holloway says, “there seemed to be a lack of awareness by Government officials that extreme Islamists could be particularly concerned with such school inspections” and that the promotion of the Government’s definition of British values might therefore make the issue of extremism and Jihadist recruitment worse.

Holloway invites us to look back 50 years to see the origins of this philosophy of secularism and the State taking on the role of arbiter of what is right and wrong. In 1964 Max Warren gave a series of lectures entitled “The Functions of a National Church”, in which he argued that the nation of Britain had always existed with a consensus of belief that its rulers served under God, yet the role of the church should not be to rule but to “prophesy, purify and prepare”. 1964 of course was just before the first sexual revolution, brought about in part by Western governments deciding that the remit of law should not extend to legislating about the ethics of private conduct of relationships. Homosexual practice and abortion were decriminalized, contraception became universally available, and a new libertinism took hold, leading to an increase in immorality. But by 2014 the Church’s traditional teaching against homosexual practice and sex outside marriage are seen as implausible, immoral and “un-British” according to the new thinking.

Holloway argues that “what is needed for human and social flourishing and also cultural growth and vitality is this: the aims of a society (for example, democracy) need to be backed up by background assumptions and beliefs (such as come from the Christian tradition).” If good values are no longer backed up by shared beliefs, “then sooner or later you have spiritual, moral, social and cultural decay…then societies are ripe for various forms of totalitarianism to bring about social order, whether secular, fascist or jihadist”.

Holloway gave four lectures to the conference, on democracy and the family, the rule of law and spiritual and moral order, individual liberty and its limitations, and tolerance and respect. Each talk was relatively short (around 20 minutes) but was packed full of summaries of key social and political thinkers from Aristotle to Augustine, from Locke to Mill, showing that the idea of a common religion undergirding worldview has been axiomatic in all societies. In Britain, for centuries we have also taken for granted a “sacred canopy” in which biblical Christianity is embedded in the structures of state but tolerant and respectful of all faiths and none, allowing the flourishing of a genuinely “liberal” environment in which individuals and groups can pursue “the good life” according to certain common values and restraints. But this canopy has now been largely removed.

These talks were followed by discussion in small groups, based around the headings “prophesy, purify and prepare”. We addressed the question of what the national and local church could do to speak truth to power, apply the Gospel in the public square and bring back Christian foundations to politics, law and education, and what the obstacles to this might be. One such obstacle is pietism and fear of controversy in many evangelical churches.

As a final lecture, Charles Raven continued the theme of national values, taking as his starting point the premise of Alastair Macintyre in his influential After Virtue that the West, in abandoning its common overarching narrative, is heading for another dark age. According to Raven, same sex marriage is “an icon of secular libertarianism”, as now marriage has been redefined no longer linked to gender or procreation, but personal fulfillment. It is one more example of a process of “cultural amnesia” – the erosion of national self consciousness based on history and sense of purpose. Both politics and church appear stale, unsure of past foundations and future vision, and seeing shrinking membership. Raven compared this with a modern independent nation such as Kenya which despite having enormous problems, has a vibrancy and hopeful vision for the future characterized by a growing population through healthy birth rates, a growing church, and a maturing political system.

There was debate in my group, reflected in one of the questions at the end, about whether the reconstruction of the spiritual and moral foundations of Britain is possible at the present time, or whether we need to recognize that we are in a time of rebellion and judgement and prepare accordingly. Holloway is optimistic: faithful Christians have a much greater influence than they think, the Gospel is capable of remarkable transformation, and our sovereign God can work miracles. Raven is more sober in his forecast: the “confessing” church may in future need to separate structurally from an increasingly apostate national church; and the faithful may need to turn aside from what is often parodied as “maintaining Christendom” or “going back to the 1950’s”. Instead, our model might be the early Benedictine project, forming genuinely Christian communities, counter-cultural, sustaining theological truth and moral life amid a potentially hostile and decaying civilisation.

Motion for Reconsideration Denied in South Carolina

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
Jan Pringle

ST. GEORGE, S.C. (Feb. 22, 2015) – For the second time in less than a month, South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein rejected arguments by The Episcopal Church and its subsidiary, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, that the two groups are rightful owners of the churches, symbols and other assets of the Diocese of South Carolina.

In her Order denying the motion for reconsideration she stated, “Large portions of the motion are simply the proposed orders previously submitted to the Court or reiterations of the Defendants’ positions at trial.”

The motion had also argued that because the Diocese had argued legal positions in the All Saints case contrary to those now being presented, that Judicial Estoppel should apply.  In response, Judge Goodstein sharply noted… “The court finds that the Judicial Estoppel argument is without merit….If the Defendants’ argument in the instant action was correct, no party previously adjudicated to be wrong would be able to correct their conduct in compliance with a court’s holding.  Such a result would be contrary to all sense of justice and order…  With regards all other matters presented in Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration, they are hereby denied.”

Earlier this month, Judge Goodstein ruled that the Diocese of South Carolina, its trustees and the 50 parishes — representing 80 percent of the members — that disassociated with the Diocese successfully withdrew from TEC in 2012, taking all their property, including churches, symbols and other assets. The ruling was the result of a three-week trial last summer in which over 50 witnesses testified.

TEC, dissatisfied with that decision, submitted a 182-page motion criticizing Judge Goodstein’s ruling, challenging her findings, arguing that she ignored evidence and demanding that she reverse her decision.

However, according to attorneys for the Plaintiff in the response they filed this morning, seventy percent of the motion contained TEC’s previously submitted proposed orders already rejected by the court.  “In many places, the motion still contained the language of the “proposed order” from which it was lifted verbatim,” Jim Lewis, Canon to Bishop Lawrence said. As counsel for the Diocese of South Carolina stated in the response: “The law is intended to be, and in fact is, a highway for litigants to travel …it is not a carousel on which litigants are to ride in never-ending circular journeying.” The response concluded:

“It is time for the Defendants to move on down the road, in pursuit of whatever appellate remedies they seek.  …the motion should be expeditiously denied allowing the Defendants to continue on the appellate highway they seem intent on traveling.”

South Carolina rules allow that such motions to reconsider are meant to address questions raised at trial but not answered in the final ruling.  An issue may not be raised the first time in a post-trial motion. “Yet 42 pages of the defendants’ motion was devoted to issues that were not raised at trial,” Lewis said.

While TEC Bishop Charles vonRosenberg has repeatedly made public pronouncements insisting that he wants to reconcile with the Diocese, his attorneys have continually filed a stream of appeals and other legal actions designed to delay court decisions.  The delaying tactics succeeded in postponing the South Carolina trial by many months – and driving the cost of litigation into the millions of dollars.  TEC has a history of using legal action to punish congregations and dioceses that leave the denomination.  It has spent up to $40 million in these legal actions during the last decade.

A clear example comes from the Diocese of Quincy.  After losing at the trial and appeals court level, the Illinois Supreme Court last November refused to hear an appeal in TEC’s failed case, which allowed the disassociating diocese to keep its property.   TEC then attempted to get 18% of the previously requested 100% of Quincy’s assets.  On Feb. 20, the Illinois circuit court reaffirmed its October 2013 ruling:  “plaintiffs won”, and imposed sanctions on TEC for its conduct.

“The court finds based upon this record, that the continued threat made … even after this case had run its course through the appellate process constitutes bad faith, is not grounded in fact or existing law and has resulted in needless, ongoing and expensive litigation,” the Illinois ruling declared.

The ruling requires that TEC “cease and desist” and that the denomination pay the legal costs of the disassociated Diocese of Quincy.

Judge Goodstein’s decision is the latest legal loss for TEC, which has lost 17.4 percent of its members and experienced a reduction of nearly 24 percent in average Sunday attendance since 2003. Lewis said that TEC’s continued use of litigation to bully dissidents who disagree with their abandonment of historical Anglican theology shows the denomination is desperate to try and stop the decline – even if it must threaten members to discourage their departure.

“Their policy of using legal action to drain the finances of dissident congregations is not working,” Lewis said. “It only deflects denomination resources from projects to promote the faith and speeds the downward spiral of the Episcopal Church.”

In Texas, the denomination failed in its efforts to get its lawsuit against the Diocese of Fort Worth reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case will now resume in a Texas trial court, under findings by the Texas Supreme Court that favor the Anglican diocese.

– See more at:

Illinois Court Smacks down Episcopal Church over Funds

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

The Eighth Judicial Circuit of Illinois slapped down the Episcopal Church this week over moneys held by The Episcopal Church in its ongoing war over properties.

“This opinion makes clear that, after The Episcopal Church lost the case, it acted in ‘bad faith’ by attempting ‘to circumvent the Order’ finding that TEC had lost the case. Therefore the Court decided that TEC must be punished for its bad faith. The punishment (or ‘sanctions’) is that TEC must pay the attorney’s fees of the winning parties,” Philadelphia trial attorney John H. Lewis said upon reading the 8-page judgment.

On Friday, the trial court judge in the Quincy case issued a strongly worded order to TEC and its attorneys that began with these words: “Although we thought the following conclusion was clear from our [earlier] determination, we will make it unambiguously clear now: plaintiffs won.”

It seems that TEC’s attorneys, ever since they lost the case on appeal (and the Illinois Supreme Court rejecting their petition for review), have been trying to prevent the plaintiff Anglican Diocese and its Bishop Alberto Morales from enjoying access once again to the bank funds which TEC’s attorneys caused to be frozen (by writing a threatening letter to PNC bank which held the funds) some six years ago. They sent a new letter to the same bank on December 30, claiming that nearly $800,000 of the funds on deposit actually belonged to one of the Quincy parishes, and not to the Diocese itself. They pointed out that there is still a lawsuit pending against that parish (and 14 others) in Peoria, according to noted canon lawyer A.S. Haley.

The bank dutifully froze the funds again; the Diocese’s attorneys went to the trial court for relief. Yesterday, that court granted their motions–and awarded them sanctions against TEC.

Here are some excerpts from the Order:

This controversy has always been about a single account … which contained a variety of funds held at PNC Bank. This is how the case was tried at the trial level, this is how the case was presented at the appellate level and this was the posture of the case as presented for the Petition for Leave to Appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Only after losing at the trial and appellate level, and then being turned down by the Supreme Court of Illinois, does TEC now claim that a lesser amount should be carved out of this single account. Moreover, TEC brings an action in Peoria County claiming the same thing and goes further to argue that this court has no “jurisdiction” to decide this issue.

… It appears to this court that this is an “after the fact” attempt to recover some of the funds. They took an “all or nothing” approach at trial and on appeal.

The order of October 9, 2013 expressly denied all of TEC’s claims, awarded the entire account to the Plaintiffs and specifically denied any of TEC’s claims for an “accounting”.

TEC filed no motion to reconsider, no motion to correct the judgment, no motion of any type whatsoever to support the contention it now makes in their Response. It now claims that a portion of the single account was, ” … never the subject matter of this case nor adjudicated in this court’s October 9, 2013, Final Order and Judgment. .. ”

After analyzing the record to find that TEC had waived any right to claim that there were separate funds in the single account, the Court observed:

During the argument on these issues, TEC argued that it did not freeze the account, PNC did. To say this argument lacks merit would be charitable. While TEC, in a very literal sense, is correct on “who” froze the account, the “why” is the more important issue. PNC froze the account because it received a letter from counsel for TEC which threatened to hold PNC liable if funds were disbursed.

The court finds, based upon this record, that the continued threat made to PNC Bank to hold it accountable if funds were disbursed and the continued attempt to collaterally attack the clear order of this court dated October 9, 2013 even after this case had run its course through the appellate process constitutes bad faith, is not grounded in fact or existing law and has resulted in needless, ongoing and expensive litigation.

Accordingly, the court grants the request of the Plaintiffs for fees incurred from December 30, 2014 onward pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 137.

There is much more to savor in the Court’s order. It is gratifying to have a trial judge (not the one who rendered the original Quincy decision) see so clearly through TEC’s bullying tactics, and to deal with them accordingly, noted Haley.


Investigation into church salaries leads to Living Wage row

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
Tim Wyatt

by Tim Wyatt

Click to enlarge

Living Wage: Canterbury Cathedral has said that it wants to pay all its staff the Living Wage but is unable to do so yet

THE Church of England has defended its stance on the Living Wage after it was revealed that cathedrals and churches were hiring staff on salaries below the benchmark.

An investigation by The Sun found that Canterbury Cathedral was advertising for porters and kiosk assistants on salaries between £6.70 and £7.75 an hour. The Living Wage (outside London) is currently set at £7.85.

Lichfield Cathedral was also revealed to be hiring waiting staff on £6.50 an hour, which is the national minimum wage. A church in Pickering, North Yorkshire – St Peter and St Paul – was hiring a pastoral worker for £7.65 an hour.

In a statement today, a C of E spokesman said that every parish, diocese, and cathedral in the Church was a separate legal entity, and had to formulate its own hiring policies. “As charities, churches require time to increase giving levels prior to ensuring delivery of the Living Wage.”

Several Conservative MPs have accused the Church of hypocrisy, because the pastoral letter sent from the House of Bishops to the C of E last week about the General Election in May had endorsed the Living Wage (News, 20 February). The Church’s statement, however, said that last year’s Living Wage Commission, which was chaired by the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, recommended phased implementation of the Wage.

“The vast majority of those employed by, or sub-contracted to the Church’s central institutions are already paid at least the Living Wage, and all will be by April 2017,” the statement also said.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was questioned about the story by reporters during a visit to Birmingham today. He admitted that the revelations had kept him up the previous night, and said that it would be “great” if every part of the C of E was paying the Living Wage, but that this would take some time.

“Every cathedral, every diocese, every parish in this country is an independent charity with its own trustees that has to make its own decisions. We all recognise that no employer can simply increase its salaries overnight. . . We’re getting there as quickly as we can.”

Canterbury Cathedral said in a statement that it was “fully committed” to introducing the Living Wage for all staff but said “current economic conditions” were stopping it from doing so.

“We have, for example, to balance any wage increases against the huge cost of repairs to the building and the large amount of repair work that is required. However, all staff at Canterbury Cathedral will receive the Living Wage by 2018.”

A Church Times investigation last year found that almost every diocese in the C of E was already paying its directly employed staff at least the Living Wage (News, 27 June). A deal brokered between the trade union Unison, and the National Society, in September, will lead to every church school’s becoming accredited Living Wage employers (News, 19 September).

From Fiji to Alaska – Eco bishops head for SA

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

By the Revd Rachel Mash,  Environmental Co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, is inviting a group of bishops from various countries impacted by climate change to meet in Cape Town next week.

Bishops will be visiting from a host of countries that reflect today’s great environmental challenges: from the sea level rise of Fiji, the deforestation of Argentina, the droughts of Namibia, the tsunamis of the Philippines and the storms of New York, and the warming of Alaska.

These bishops are united in their commitment to addressing these environmental challenges.

Sixteen bishops will be gathering in Cape Town from February 23 to exchange ideas and concerns, to share challenges and successes.

First the bishops will hear about the challenges faced in different parts of the globe. Then they will share actions and theologies that have been helpful in moving forward. The goal is to strategise together in order strategies for raising the issue of climate change and environmental degradation throughout the global Anglican Church.

What is the event?

A strategic planning meeting hosted by the Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa of a core group of bishops and archbishops whose dioceses or Provinces are in areas affected by climate change or in areas that contribute significantly to conditions that lead to climate change.

The bishops and archbishops identified are already active in responding to climate change and environmental degradation as a result of human activity in various ways, e.g. through theological exposition and challenge, advocacy, greening churches and communities, and supporting local mitigation.

Building on relationships already established virtually, the meeting will foster a strengthened, working collegiality among the bishops who have been identified and ultimately serve as a catalyst for further response and activities throughout the Communion.

The bishops will share their experience in responding to climate change so far, their hopes, their concerns, and ideas about how they, specifically, might organise themselves better for that purpose. They will have an opportunity to reflect and study together, and to look at the obstacles they face and discern what they can do, by working together, to move through these obstacles.

Drawing on their own experiences and ideas, a strategic plan will be developed for themselves, with proposals for broader engagement in the Anglican Communion.

Science and the experience of the impacts of climate change suggest that in many ways survival is at stake – for human communities, for the ecosystems on which human life depends. We have listened to Anglicans in a number of regions where congregations face food and water shortages and other stresses that are directly linked to climate change.

The meeting and the broader project will enable Anglicans at leadership level to make co-ordinated efforts towards upholding human dignity and the integrity of creation, and strengthening interdependence within the Anglican Communion as they become better stewards of God’s creation.

It is hoped that the outcomes of this project will have an impact that reaches far beyond the present time.

Key outcomes

– A group of bishops and archbishops (Eco Bishops) representative of the regions of the Anglican Communion, will have participated in the core group as described above and worked together to formulate an action plan for themselves, with proposals for broader Anglican engagement in responding to climate change, faithfully, prayerfully and proactively.

– The core group of bishops will become visible in offering biblical and moral leadership in the area of climate justice. Their experience and deliberations will be communicated to Anglicans and others around the world via ACEN, news releases and other forms of media.

– As a resource for the broader Communion, a concise report will be produced, gathering the bishops’ lived experience and responses to climate change and setting out future actions.

– More Anglicans will understand that responding to climate change is part and parcel of our baptismal vocation and will be active in greening their homes, churches and communities and in speaking out on behalf of those experiencing the worst effects of climate change. The Anglican Church will become active in global advocacy.

– The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (currently the chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network) will have shared the experiences and deliberations of the core group with his sister and brother Primates.

– Anglican leadership will increasingly be taking the initiative in networking effectively with ecumenical partners, other faith groups, government and UN structures. Those currently affected by the impacts of climate change will be given a voice at the international level of the Communion, and know that they are remembered and supported, both in the prayer and in practical ways.

– Those who have the power to curtail carbon emissions will have a fresh sense of how their actions can have a positive impact on their sisters and brothers in other parts of the world and contribute towards climate justice.

The following Eco-Bishops will be coming to Cape Town:

Jane Alexander, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Bishop, Canada; Andrew Dietsche, New York, The Episcopal Church; Nick Drayson, Northern Argentina; Nicholas Holtam, Salisbury, Church of England; David Chillingworth, St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, Scottish Episcopal Church; Chad Gandiya, Harare, Central Africa; William Mchombo, Eastern Zambia, Central Africa; Ellinah Wamukoya, Swaziland, Southern Africa; Stephen Moreo, Johannesburg, Southern Africa; Nathaniel Nakwatumbah, Namibia, Southern Africa; Thabo Makgoba, Cape Town, Church of Southern Africa; Thomas Oommen, Madhya Kerala, Church of South India; Andrew Chan, Hong Kong; Jonathan Casimina, Davao, Philippines; Tom Wilmot, Perth, Australia; and Apimeleki Qiliho, Fiji, Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Bishop Graham Kings appointed as Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion

Saturday, February 21st, 2015
From Mission Theology:The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church Mission Society and Durham University have become partners in creating an innovative seven year post: Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion.

The purpose is to research, stimulate, connect and publish works of theology in the Anglican Communion, with particular focus on insights from Africa, Asia and Latin America, in their ecumenical contexts.

The Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings, currently Bishop of Sherborne, has been appointed and will take up this new post in July 2015. He will be based in London, visiting Durham University, as an Honorary Fellow, and will travel in the Communion. He will convene a series of seminars in Anglican Communion Studies for theologians, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A new web site, launched today,, will publish the papers.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said, “I am delighted that this strong partnership has developed with CMS and Durham University. It is very gratifying that the concept of a Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion has attracted the necessary support to get to this stage where the post can be established. I know that the Anglican Communion has many gifted theologians and it is so important that their voice is heard more widely. I am glad that Bishop Graham’s experience and knowledge of the Communion is being made so generously available and I shall encourage the development of this project with a keen interest.”

Read here:

VOL NOTE: This is an interesting appointment. Graham Kings and Fulcrum have long been opponents of GAFCON. How will this new alliance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Durham University (increasingly influential in CofE theological education), CMS and Fulcrum be viewed in the wider Anglican Communion? Is the idea to work with GAFCON, or to set up an alternative to it in the Global South? Also, Graham Kings has been welcomed as an assistant Bishop in Southwark — how will he work with the Diocesan leadership’s liberal line on sexuality, and how will his appointment be viewed by local evangelicals?” Another question must be raised as to what Bishop King’s relationship is with the Anglican Consultative Council and their theological positions which are at odds with the vast majority of the Global South. This appointment can only be seen as an attempt to soften up orthodox African Anglican Primates to accept Western pansexuality and other progressive doctrinal notions.